This week marks the five year anniversary of Michael Jackson’s death; it seems weird to think that it has been that long since the world was shocked by the news of his passing. While Michael Jackson the person had become something of a punch line in his later years, his music had endured. One of the bittersweet moments that I remember in the days after his death was that his music was suddenly ubiquitous again. It took his death to finally have his music once again overshadow his questionable and bizarre personal life.
I grew up listening to Michael Jackson; in my early years of listening to pop music, he was really the biggest thing on the planet (followed closely by Madonna). I was in second grade when Thriller dropped and even at that young age I knew that this was something important. For some reason, the Vincent Price portion of “Thriller” terrified me and I would make my parents skip that part of the album (Yup – I had Thriller on vinyl). I even twirled a baton to “Beat It” for our second grade talent show, which is hilarious on many different levels. His music was at every birthday party at the roller-skating rink and his videos helped make MTV into a viable channel. He was so popular that our teachers actually used his music as a reward; they bought us Thriller on cassette tape and we were only able to listen to it if we behaved and followed instructions. Inconceivably, this actually worked.
As I got older and Michael got weirder, I started to pay less attention to him. He never really recaptured the universal acclaim that Thriller brought him, though he continued to have legions of dedicated fans around the globe until the time of his death. However, even as I stopped following his newer music and actively paying attention to what he was up to, I would still stop and smile whenever I heard some of his older music.
In honor of this sad anniversary this week, here are my top five Michael Jackson songs:
5. “Man in the Mirror” – Bad
4. “P.Y.T. (Pretty Young Thing) – Thriller
In retrospect, the song title raises some eyebrows.
3. “Don’t Stop Til You Get Enough” – Off the Wall
2.”Billie Jean” – Thriller
1. “The Way You Make Me Feel” – Bad
What would your favorite Michael Jackson song list look like? Sound off in the comments below.